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Writing Credits:

Each week, a new pair of total strangers are faced with the ultimate survival challenge: survive for 21 days together with no clothes or supplies in some of the most dangerous environments.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1/16X9
English Dolby Digital 2.0
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 308 min.
Price: $29.93
Release Date: 4/21/2015

• None


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Naked and Afraid: Season 1 (2013)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 13, 2015)

Back in 2000, Survivor became an enormous hit and set a template for a certain form of reality series. Discovery’s Naked and Afraid offers a twist on that formula.

Like Survivor, Afraid places contestants into difficult living circumstances and challenges them to get through these situations. As implied by the series’ title, the change-up comes from clothes, or lack thereof, as Afraid’s participants need to spend their stints in the raw.

Each episode of Afraid plops two contestants – one male, one female – in an extreme situation and forces them to get by with almost no supplies and no clothes. The participants need to survive for 21 days if they’re to succeed.

This Season One package includes seven episodes. In these, we find the following settings and pairings:

The Jungle Curse: “Survival enthusiast” Shane Lewis and survival instructor Kim Shelton in the Costa Rican rainforest.

Terror in Tanzania: Army veteran EJ Snyder and game warden Kellie Nightlinger in the African Serengeti.

Island from Hell: Former Marine Jonathan Klay and “adventure model” Alison Teal in the Maldive Islands.

Punishment in Panama: survival instructor Clint Jivoin and “primitive survivalist” Laura Zerra on a Panamanian island.

Breaking Borneo: tattoo artist Puma Cabra and wilderness expert Julie Wright in Sabah, Borneo.

Beware the Bayou: author Billy Berger and stuntwoman Ky Furneaux in a Louisiana swamp.

Bares All: All the contestants from the first six shows come back to discuss their experiences.

Normally when I review TV series, I discuss each episode on its own. I don’t think that makes sense here, though, as the shows don’t really offer themselves as strong fodder for individual analysis – it’s not like the season pursues a narrative arc or anything.

Afraid episodes differ due to a few factors: the contestants, their interactions and the settings. The latter category adds some variety in terms of threatening elements and visuals, but the shows concentrate on how terrifying/inhospitable these places are, so there’s not a lot to say about that side of the series.

This means Afraid lives or dies on its participants and what happens to them as well as how they deal with each other. Not surprisingly, the most interesting episodes come from those with contestants who don’t get along very well. 42 minutes with folks who get buddy-buddy lacks the interpersonal drama we’d like, so the shows go best when there’s tension between the pairs.

Of course, we also want people we find it enjoyable to watch. Obviously a show that offers naked people boasts a strong titillation factor, and the viewer will clearly enjoy it more when it includes attractive participants.

No one should expect the DVDs to present uncensored visuals, though. As aired on the Discovery Channel, the programs show naked rears but digitally mask other “naughty parts”. I’m sure Discovery would move a ton more DVDs if they sold an unaltered version, but we don’t get that here.

If you want bare butts, though, Afraid is the show for you. I won’t attempt to judge the quality of the male posteriors on display, but for the females, Alison and Laura become easily the most appealing participants.

(Minor aside: far be it for me to accuse a reality series of toying with reality – ahem – but I can’t be the only viewer who wonders how the women maintain such smooth legs over three weeks, can I?)

Beyond some eye candy, does Afraid have much to offer? Not really, largely because it turns monotonous so quickly. Even with a variety of locales, they all kind of look the same. The various spots tend to be so heavily wooded that we seem stuck in the trees all the time; even when we get the beaches of the Maldives or the African Serengeti, we don’t discover much visual change.

The challenges all tend to play out the same way as well. Given the nature of the set-up, this probably becomes inevitable. The participants need to satisfy basic life needs – food, water, shelter – so they perform the same actions again and again.

That makes the shows awfully repetitive. How many times can we watch people create fire or search for water? By three episodes into the season, the monotony causes the shows to drag.

I think Afraid would fare better if it offered a mix of challenges – not all the shows need to deal solely with the basic life needs. Simply changing locations and participants isn’t enough to keep the spark alive.

Perhaps other seasons will find ways to make the different episodes stand out from each other, but that doesn’t occur with Season One of Naked and Afraid. After the basic prurient thrill of two naked strangers wears off, the programs fail to keep our attention.

The DVD Grades: Picture C-/ Audio C/ Bonus F

Naked and Afraid appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on these single-sided, double-layered DVDs; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The shows looked decent and that was about it.

Sharpness varied. Close-ups tended to seem fairly distinct, but wider shots could be on the soft side. Visuals also took on a blocky look at times due to the complexity of the jungle conditions and the low resolution of the DVDs.

Moderate issues connected to jagged edges and shimmering occurred, but no signs of edge enhancement appeared. Source flaws weren’t an issue, though some light digital artifacts gave the show a bit of a grainy look.

Colors were acceptable though a little messy. Greens dominated and seemed fine for the most part, but they lacked vivacity. Blacks were fairly dark and tight, and low-light shots seemed watchable given the shooting conditions. Even with the ups and downs, this ended up as an average presentation.

I thought the Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack of Afraid was also adequate. The soundfield had little going for it. Music showed decent stereo imaging, and a few effects spread out across the front. These were minor, though, and didn’t add much to the experience. Mostly thunder popped up and blasted at us; otherwise, general outdoors atmosphere ruled the day.

Audio quality was fine. Speech sounded natural and concise, without edginess or other problems. Music seemed full and rich, and effects were decent; they didn’t demand much of the mix, but they appeared accurate enough. This was a serviceable soundtrack for a reality show.

No extras appear here, so don’t expect any deleted scenes or commentaries or whatnot.

Outside of its titillating premise, Naked and Afraid doesn’t have much to offer. It tends to seem repetitive, as the individual episodes don’t tend to deliver much variation. The DVDs give us average picture and audio but lacks supplements. Outside of occasional eye candy, Afraid doesn’t offer much entertainment value.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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